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HSF brings in two senior non-execs amid shake-up to governance board

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has shaken up its global council to bring in two non-executives. The move sees Commonwealth Bank of Australia director Jane Hemstritch and senior independent director of insurer at RSA Johanna Waterous become the first external members on HSF’s main oversight body.

In a reshuffle that sees the global council expand to 15 members, the HSF partnership has voted to appoint the experienced professional services sector duo, as London head of litigation Tim Parkes and Melbourne-based projects partner Jane Hodder are replaced by corporate partners Al Donald and Nigel Farr. All four new members join the council on 1 May, with Donald and Farr handed three-year terms.

The Melbourne-based Hemstritch made her name at bluechip consultancy Accenture, where she served as Asia Pacific managing director before retiring in 2007. Since then she has taken on non-executive director posts at a host of Australia’s largest companies, including the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, construction giant Lend Lease and oil major Santos.

London-based Waterous made her name at McKinsey, where she co-led the consultant’s European retail and global consumer marketing practices. Since leaving McKinsey in 2007 after more than 20 years, Waterous took on a non-executive directorship at insurer RSA. Since then she has become a senior independent director at British drinks can maker Rexam, recently acquired by US rival Ball for $6.7bn, a non-executive director at UK supermarket Morrisons and an operating partner at private equity houses Duke Street and Tri-Artisan Capital Partners.

The drive to appoint two non-executive members initially came from former HSF senior partner Jonathan Scott, and was completed under his successor James Palmer. The appointments take the number of women on the 15-member council to five, representing a third of the body. The council meets on a quarterly basis, with one annual review.

Moves to refine governance comes as HSF moves to secure the initiative in the wake of the 2012 tie-up between Herbert Smith and Australian leader Freehills.

Palmer (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘I am confident that Jane and Johanna will provide fresh insights and perspective that will add to the quality of our thinking about our strategy and its implementation and will do so very effectively.’

Waterous said: ‘I am delighted to be joining Herbert Smith Freehills at a time when professional service firms and the legal industry, in particular, are facing unprecedented change.’

Click here to read Consumed, Legal Business’s in-depth analysis of the post-merger prospects of HSF